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A Protectionist is Someone Who…

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… seeing only the positive employment effects in domestic industries that are shielded from foreign competition (and, hence, blind to all other effects of protectionism, including the negative employment effects in other domestic industries) is unable to explain why he does not also clamor for more arson and vandalism. After all, each act of arson and each act of vandalism creates jobs for those who must rebuild and repair the destroyed and damaged properties.

The protectionist is unable to explain why, if protection boosts overall employment and wages in the domestic economy, arson and vandalism do not boost overall employment and wages in the domestic economy. The protectionist, therefore, either ignores the comparison or accuses those of us who make it of creating a straw man. Yet in fact, of course, it is no straw man; this comparison raises a serious question – namely, if using tariffs to reduce consumers’ access to goods and services boosts overall domestic employment and wages, why do not arson and vandalism – which also reduce consumers’ access to goods and services – boost overall domestic employment and wages? To this question the protectionist has no answer that withstands the slightest bit of scrutiny.

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